Connor Barth was perfect in his return to Tampa Bay, hitting three field goals from 35, 45 and 47-yards out while knocking down all three 33-yard extra points.
After seeing 17 points get taken off the board over the last two weeks – five missed FGs and two PATs –head coach Lovie Smith is relieved to put the kicking issues aside.
“It was exciting to watch, to put it mildly,” Smith said. “What a homecoming, a welcome back. There’s a lot on the kicker to perform when his number is called and he really stepped up to the plate big time.”
Not only did Barth step up to the plate on three-point attempts, but also on kickoffs. A lot was made about his apparent lack of power keeping him a free agent, but Barth silenced the critics on Sunday. All eight kickoffs reached the end zone and five resulted in touchbacks.
“Last week you guys reminded me forever (saying), ‘Lovie, you’re going to have to cover this week because Connor’s going to hit it to the 20-yard line every time,'” Smith jokingly said. “That wasn’t the case. He really did a great job kicking off.”
After the game, Barth credited long-snapper Andrew DePaola and holder Jake Schum on “making it easy” on him and said he never doubted any field goal attempt. Though, even he admitted he was a little shocked at how well kickoffs went.
“I’ve made a lot of kicks in this stadium, so it is what it is,” Barth said. “You just trust in what you worked on in practice. We had a good week and that always makes it better on Sunday. We always preach one kick at a time and I really try to focus on that one kick.
“I’m happy that I kicked off, that was the main thing. I haven’t kicked off like that – I don’t know if I ever have. That was fun. It was a great team win and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”